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Racist Feminism: An Internet Storm

 I’d say I’m a feminist, I’ve been known to get quite excited/angry during certain debates and normally have a thing or two to say when women’s issues are brought to the table. However last Saturday I was stunned into silence by a twitter frenzy surrounding someone I’ve been hailing as my hero. For anyone I’ve spent more than 5 minutes with in the last year will know that I absolutely fell in love with Caitlin Moran’s book “How to be a Woman”, I found it charming, engaging and brutally honest. It had me laughing and crying on the tube during my commute, never before had I read something that I could relate to so directly. Naturally I began to read more of Moran’s work and begun following her on twitter, which is where this incident took place.

 

Moran interviewed the writer of HBO series “Girls”, Lena Dunham last Saturday. This was something she was very much looking forward to having tweeted about it in the days prior. In response Lizzie Coan decided to, somewhat aggressively, comment on the event. Picture reveals the interaction. Following this,  many others commented away, re-tweeting, replying and sending abuse to the journalist who up until now was enjoying wave of popularity and success. This sparked many blogs to be written, forums to be set up and online discussions about what it means to be a feminist. Moran is known to block people who question her about similar subjects in the past and some are wearing the blocking as a badge of honour in the debate of intersectional feminism.

I’m not here to rage angry abuse at Moran or condone her reactionalist response. I do not think it is right what she said, sure she was approached in an aggressive way but with issues regarding race we all have a responsibility not to make flippant comments that could be misconstrued as racist. Having read quite a lot on this issue over the past week or so, I do however think we’re beginning to fall into a trap of classification. I turned the idea inward, I needed to classify myself, to truly be a part of this debate I needed to think about what it means to me and how I would react in this situation.  I would like to say I am a supporter of intersectional feminism, supporting women of any race, class and form. Trying my best to understand that each group of women have their own struggles for gender equality and understanding that some are greater than others. But then what am I classified as? Still a feminist but not one only concerned with my own race, class or age. When this is the case, anyone who believes in feminism and even humanism needs to stand up and say “you’re right you are being under represented or treated unfairly and I would like to help do something about that”. Never should we have to choose between gender and race issues, when they are both relating to an under representation or repression we need to stand up and say both of these things are important, instead of pushing one to the foreground in the detriment of the other. There is an argument to push something a head you must be single minded and focussed, I to a point agree, but this should always be done with a nod to relating issues.

The main criticism of Moran is about her being only concerned with her own brand of feminism, the feminism that only relates to her own life and her own struggles.  Being in the public eye you are, even if you haven’t personally encouraged it, in a position to influence and have the ability bring conversation into the lime light. Writing a book relating only to her own life doesn’t preach more than her experiences and views. Fair enough, but now as an audience we can’t but feel a bit disappointed that she doesn’t feel the same way we do. Lesson learnt, do not create false idols. It is unclear what she really meant by that flippant remark, I’d like to say it was dismissive rather than out and out racism. But i am not her and I don’t think she will respond to the questions raised either.  However it has been very upsetting for many women.

I feel it is a good thing that this internet storm has happened. Sometimes it takes an extreme situation or an aggressive reaction to get an issue into mainstream conversation. I’ve found myself talking to many people about it and having interesting conversations about gender representation and race representation like never before. I hope this promotes the need for more non-stereotypical roles in TV and film for WOC (and MOC for that matter too). I also hope this pushes female comedy closer to the limelight as well, as “Girls” although surrounded by all this controversy is meant to be very funny. I’m happy to support that. Whilst it saddens me that people have become quite upset and angry this week I do think that this can only be seen as a positive. There are many women out there with a fire in their bellies to push forward what is right and deserved. Representation is a long fought battle for woman of all types so let’s not stop here. Who said feminism was dead? Let the conversation begin ..

Links:

http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/caitlin-moran?before=1349542076

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/08/girls-twitter-feminism-caitlin-moran#start-of-comments

 

http://www.hbo.com/girls/index.html

 

http://shadowscrescent.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/an-open-letter-to-caitlin-moran/

 

http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/caitlin-moran-and-eve-barlow-are-giving-girls-a-bad-name

 

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